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NBA Draft

NBA Saturday: Scout’s Take on 2014 Draft

An NBA scout breaks down the 2014 NBA Draft class and gives his take on prospects like Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker among others

Alex Kennedy

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As the 2013-14 NBA season winds down, it’s clear that a number of teams are already looking ahead to the 2014 NBA Draft. At this point, certain teams seem more concerned with getting ping pong balls than wins, which is understandable considering this is a very talented class that may include a number of franchise-changing players at the top of the draft board.

NBA decision-makers have now had months to evaluate the draft’s top prospects, so executives and scouts have a pretty good read on each player. While March Madness will certainly influence their opinions as well, the sample size is big enough for people in NBA circles to break down a player.

Basketball Insiders wanted to see what NBA talent evaluators are saying about this draft class and its top prospects, so we caught up with an Eastern Conference scout to get his take on the 2014 NBA Draft. The scout spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the situation.

On the 2014 NBA Draft as a whole:

“It’s a good draft. There isn’t a consensus prize at the top of the draft – no LeBron James or Derrick Rose or Kyrie Irving – which means the team that gets the No. 1 pick will have a difficult decision to make.

“This draft is much, much better than last year’s draft. There’s no doubt about that. I believe this draft class will have multiple All-Stars, whereas last year’s draft may not produce a single All-Star.

“Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle have failed to live up to expectations, but they are still very talented players. They may not have played as well as everyone hoped this season, but they all have a chance to be special players and have long, successful NBA careers. Even though they didn’t blow everyone away, they are all so young and they all have a ton of potential.

»In Related: 2014 NBA Mock Draft

“There’s no question that this is an important draft. A lot of teams are hoping to land a player that they can build around in this draft. It’s also a big deal because of the importance of rookie deals in the new collective bargaining agreement.

“In a draft like this, with so many intriguing prospects, the best pick may be No. 3 or No. 4 so that you can just see who falls to you rather than having to make that tough choice.”

On Andrew Wiggins:

“He’s lightning quick and he has one of the best first steps that I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t get his shoulders low, he stands straight up and down and is kind of mechanical when he plays. He also has a tendency to settle for jump shots. He’s extremely athletic, though, and he can get by anyone.

“I’m not sure about his body language. He’s not a pouter or anything, but it just seems like he’s either happy or overwhelmed. I’d like to see him get angry and fired up. I really haven’t seen any competitive emotion from him.

»In Related: Tanking in the Draft Rarely Works

“I think he has a high ceiling, but I don’t think he’ll be a LeBron James or Kevin Durant type of player like some people are projecting. I could see him making a major impact on a team because he is such a great athlete, he can get by anybody and he shows flashes of brilliance. Every so often, he’ll make an incredible move and then you just don’t see it again for a long time. That consistency has to improve.

“He was put in a difficult position this year because all eyes were on him and the expectations were through the roof. He failed to live up to the hype, but he can still become a very good player who has a successful career in the NBA.

“He’s still so young and has so much room to grow, so it’s difficult to say what his ceiling will be. I’ve heard some people say that his upside is Tracy McGrady or Paul George, which makes sense. I could also see him becoming a lot like Rudy Gay.”

On Jabari Parker:

“Jabari is a player who scares teams. You’re scared to pass on him because he has the ‘it’ factor, smoothness and intangibles. Nobody says a bad thing about him. Even players in the league who know him speak very positively about him. He seems like a great kid and someone who would be great in a locker room. He’s very talented.

“The reason you’re scared to take him is because there is a history of players who played the four in college whose games haven’t translated to the NBA, such as Michael Beasley or Derrick Williams. There’s some concern that he’ll struggle and become a tweener. The best thing for him is that players like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce have been moving over to power forward lately and thriving in the position, because it shows teams that having a player like that at the four can work.

»In Related: The Top 10 Players in the NBA

“Still, there are questions about Parker’s body and athleticism. He’s not the quickest guy and his athleticism has been questioned. He’s had some explosive moments, but there are a lot of times when he doesn’t look like a good athlete. Teams will likely want to change his body and conditioning once he gets to the NBA.

“He was shooting the ball really well early in the season, which skewed his numbers, but he has come back down to earth lately. I think he’ll be a very good player in the NBA, but I don’t know if he can be a franchise-changing savior that some people peg him to be. My NBA comparison for him is Paul Pierce.”

On Joel Embiid:

“He has had the biggest impact on this draft so far. Entering the season, the conversation was about Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, and then scouts starting falling for Embiid. Scouts were falling in love with him and then looking over their shoulder hoping that no other teams were noticing how great he looked. Obviously, he kept improving and the secret got out.

“He’s able to do so many things at his size that nobody else can. He has amazing footwork, great athleticism, nice touch and a beautiful stroke on his shot. He may have the highest upside in the draft because he still has so much room to grow.

“His footwork reminds me of Hakeem Olajuwon and his power, outside shot and skills remind me a little of Patrick Ewing. He could be really, really good.

“I do think the pressure of being hyped up as the consensus No. 1 pick did start to get to him a little bit. He hasn’t been the same player recently. Yes, he’s had the health issues, but he doesn’t seem as loose and his demeanor has changed. A team will definitely have to look into his background and learn about him before using such a high pick on him.

“The back issue is kind of scary too for a big man. You never want to see that in a young center. The team that picks him will have to look into that and make sure it’s not something that’s going to limit him.”

On Dante Exum:

“I have seen him play live a limited number of times, but I have to say that he’s really intriguing. He has a legitimate chance to go No. 1 in this draft. He’s that good. His upside is enormous. I won’t be surprised if he goes No. 1 on draft night. If we land the No. 1 pick, he’s a guy who we’re seriously going to look at.

“There is nothing that suggests that he won’t be a great player. He’s athletic, he can shoot and he can handle the ball. He’s incredibly versatile. He really can play three positions, which is attractive to a lot of teams. I’m excited to watch him develop and see what kind of player he becomes.

»In Related: Fraschilla Compares Exum to Jordan

“He hasn’t played against great competition yet, but he’s a phenomenal prospect and I think his game will translate well to the NBA. I think he’ll be an All-Star in this league.

“When I see him, I think his upside is Anfernee Hardaway. I could see him being a similar type player, someone who is able to impact a game in many ways and cause a lot of problems for opposing teams.”

On Julius Randle:

He’s a man, and he won’t get pushed around by other players. He has the ability to face up and take guys off of the dribble. Right now, he’s left-hand dominant, so he must work on his right hand and keep improving his jumper if he wants to take the next step and really wreak havoc.

“I really think he’s someone who will benefit from playing with a better team. If you watch Kentucky, their point guard play and shooters have been bad, which has made things really tough for him. The team is a mess. It’s a chaotic situation since there isn’t much leadership and the group is so inexperienced.

“He should be able to play in the league for a really long time, but the question is how good will he be?

“People around the league are really interested to see how he measures out – how tall and how long he is. You’d love if he could play the three to utilize his ball handling and skills, but that’s not his game.

“When I look at Randle, I see some Jamal Mashburn and some Paul Millsap.”

On Marcus Smart:

“He’s one of those guys who has been over scouted. It’s tough being under the microscope for two seasons. He’s had to deal with tons of pressure. With that said, you could put him in an NBA game right now and he’d be alright.

“He’s a great athlete, very strong, and I really like his game. His shooting will come along, the question is how much? He’ll benefit from having NBA talent around him at the next level; that should help him as a facilitator and he won’t have to carry the scoring load like he is now.

“Look how bad that team was without him. I think that says a lot about his impact on a team. When I see him, I see a mix between Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups in terms of his body type and leadership and fire. I think he’s going to be a very good player. He has All-Star potential.

“A lot of people have asked me if I’m concerned about the ‘fan pushing’ incident. Not at all. Honestly, I kind of liked it. I love that he gets fired up, that he gets that competitive. Others may not have liked it, but I love the intensity.

“His decision to go back to school this year says a lot about who he is. The biggest fear for an NBA team is that we’re going to draft a kid and then he’ll lose his hunger right when he gets a paycheck. I’m not worried about that with Smart. He had a chance to get a payday last year and turned it down because he wanted to stick with his team and keep improving at the collegiate level. That says a lot about him.”

On Noah Vonleh:

“Vonleh is a very interesting player. He needs time to develop, but he could end up being really good. I would definitely say he has All-Star potential. The upside is there.

“He can score with both hands, he has an outside shot and he’s a long, great athlete. He hasn’t had the chance to be a go-to guy at Indiana because their point guard shoots the ball a lot, but this is a kid who has all of the tools to be very special and he’s so young.

“Because he just turned 18 years old in August, it’s easy to see why a team would fall in love with him. He’s younger than a lot of the other prospects at the top of the draft, and he just has so much potential.

“He hasn’t gotten the same amount of attention as some of the other players on this list, but he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on. A few years from now, he could be one of the best players from this class and an All-Star. The tools are there for him to be great.”

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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NBA Draft

NBA ANNOUNCES EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2020 NBA DRAFT

The National Basketball Association announced today that 205 players — 163 players from colleges and other educational institutions and 42 international players — have filed as early entry candidates for the 2020 NBA Draft

Basketball Insiders

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NEW YORK, April 28, 2020 – The National Basketball Association announced today that 205 players — 163 players from colleges and other educational institutions and 42 international players — have filed as early entry candidates for the 2020 NBA Draft presented by State Farm.

Players who have applied for early entry have the right to withdraw their names from consideration for the Draft by notifying the NBA of their decision in writing 10 days prior to the 2020 NBA Draft.

Following is the list of players from colleges and other educational institutions who have applied for early entry into the 2020 NBA Draft.

EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2020 NBA DRAFT

Player

School

Height

Status

Precious Achiuwa

Memphis

6-9

Freshman

Milan Acquaah

California Baptist

6-3

Junior

Jordyn Adams

Austin Peay

6-3

Freshman

Abdul Ado

Mississippi State

6-11

Junior

Ty-Shon Alexander

Creighton

6-4

Junior

Timmy Allen

Utah

6-6

Sophomore

Derrick Alston Jr.

Boise State

6-9

Junior

Cole Anthony

North Carolina

6-3

Freshman

Joel Ayayi

Gonzaga

6-5

Sophomore

Brendan Bailey

Marquette

6-8

Sophomore

Saddiq Bey

Villanova

6-8

Sophomore

Tyler Bey

Colorado

6-7

Junior

Jermaine Bishop

Norfolk State

6-1

Junior

Jomaru Brown

Eastern Kentucky

6-2

Sophomore

Marcus Burk

IUPUI

6-3

Junior

Dachon Burke Jr.

Nebraska

6-4

Junior

Jordan Burns

Colgate

6-0

Junior

Jared Butler

Baylor

6-3

Sophomore

Manny Camper

Siena

6-7

Junior

Vernon Carey Jr.

Duke

6-10

Freshman

Marcus Carr

Minnesota

6-2

Sophomore

Tamenang Choh

Brown

6-5

Junior

Kofi Cockburn

Illinois

7-0

Freshman

David Collins

South Florida

6-3

Junior

Zach Cooks

NJIT

5-9

Junior

Jalen Crutcher

Dayton

6-1

Junior

Ryan Daly

St. Joseph’s

6-5

Junior

Nate Darling

Delaware

6-5

Junior

Darius Days

LSU

6-6

Sophomore

Dexter Dennis

Wichita State

6-5

Sophomore

Lamine Diane

CSUN

6-7

Sophomore

Ayo Dosunmu

Illinois

6-5

Sophomore

Devon Dotson

Kansas

6-2

Sophomore

Nojel Eastern

Purdue

6-7

Junior

Anthony Edwards

Georgia

6-5

Freshman

CJ Elleby

Washington State

6-6

Sophomore

Mason Faulkner

Western Carolina

6-1

Junior

LJ Figueroa

St. John’s

6-6

Junior

Malik Fitts

St. Mary’s

6-8

Junior

Malachi Flynn

San Diego State

6-1

Junior

Blake Francis

Richmond

6-0

Junior

Hasahn French

St. Louis

6-7

Junior

DJ Funderburk

NC State

6-10

Junior

Both Gach

Utah

6-6

Sophomore

Alonzo Gaffney

Ohio State

6-9

Freshman

Luka Garza

Iowa

6-11

Junior

Jacob Gilyard

Richmond

5-9

Junior

Grant Golden

Richmond

6-10

Junior

Jordan Goodwin

St. Louis

6-3

Junior

Tony Goodwin II

Redemption Academy (MA)

6-6

Post-Graduate

Jayvon Graves

Buffalo

6-3

Junior

AJ Green

Northern Iowa

6-4

Sophomore

Darin Green Jr.

UCF

6-4

Freshman

Josh Green

Arizona

6-6

Freshman

Ashton Hagans

Kentucky

6-3

Sophomore

Tyrese Haliburton

Iowa State

6-5

Sophomore

Josh Hall

Moravian Prep (NC)

6-8

Post-Graduate

Rayshaun Hammonds

Georgia

6-9

Junior

Jalen Harris

Nevada

6-5

Junior

Niven Hart

Fresno State

6-5

Freshman

Aaron Henry

Michigan State

6-6

Sophomore

Jalen Hill

UCLA

6-10

Sophomore

Nate Hinton

Houston

6-5

Sophomore

Jay Huff

Virginia

7-1

Junior

Elijah Hughes

Syracuse

6-6

Junior

Feron Hunt

SMU

6-8

Sophomore

Chance Hunter

Long Beach State

6-6

Sophomore

DeJon Jarreau

Houston

6-5

Junior

Damien Jefferson

Creighton

6-5

Junior

Isaiah Joe

Arkansas

6-5

Sophomore

Dakari Johnson

Cape Fear CC (NC)

6-0

Freshman

Jalen Johnson

Louisiana

6-7

Junior

Andre Jones

Nicholls State

6-4

Junior

C.J. Jones

MTSU

6-5

Junior

Herbert Jones

Alabama

6-7

Junior

Mason Jones

Arkansas

6-5

Junior

Tre Jones

Duke

6-3

Sophomore

Corey Kispert

Gonzaga

6-7

Junior

Kameron Langley

NC A&T

6-2

Junior

AJ Lawson

South Carolina

6-6

Sophomore

Saben Lee

Vanderbilt

6-2

Junior

Kira Lewis Jr.

Alabama

6-3

Sophomore

Matt Lewis

James Madison

6-5

Junior

Isaiah Livers

Michigan

6-7

Junior

Denzel Mahoney

Creighton

6-5

Junior

Makur Maker

Pacific Academy (CA)

7-0

Post-Graduate

Sandro Mamukelashvili

Seton Hall

6-11

Junior

Tre Mann

Florida

6-4

Freshman

Nico Mannion

Arizona

6-3

Freshman

Naji Marshall

Xavier

6-7

Junior

Kenyon Martin Jr.

IMG Academy (FL)

6-7

Post-Graduate

Remy Martin

Arizona State

6-0

Junior

Tyrese Maxey

Kentucky

6-3

Freshman

Mac McClung

Georgetown

6-2

Sophomore

Jaden McDaniels

Washington

6-9

Freshman

Isiaha Mike

SMU

6-8

Junior

Isaiah Miller

UNCG

6-0

Junior

Matt Mitchell

San Diego State

6-6

Junior

EJ Montgomery

Kentucky

6-10

Sophomore

Andrew Nembhard

Florida

6-5

Sophomore

Aaron Nesmith

Vanderbilt

6-6

Sophomore

Zeke Nnaji

Arizona

6-11

Freshman

Obadiah Noel

Massachusetts-Lowell

6-4

Junior

Jordan Nwora

Louisville

6-7

Junior

Onyeka Okongwu

USC

6-9

Freshman

Isaac Okoro

Auburn

6-6

Freshman

Elijah Olaniyi

Stony Brook

6-5

Junior

Daniel Oturu

Minnesota

6-10

Sophomore

Reggie Perry

Mississippi State

6-10

Sophomore

Filip Petrusev

Gonzaga

6-11

Sophomore

John Petty Jr.

Alabama

6-5

Junior

Nate Pierre-Louis

Temple

6-4

Junior

Xavier Pinson

Missouri

6-2

Sophomore

Yves Pons

Tennessee

6-6

Junior

Immanuel Quickley

Kentucky

6-3

Sophomore

Darius Quisenberry

Youngstown State

6-1

Sophomore

Jahmi’us Ramsey

Texas Tech

6-4

Freshman

Paul Reed Jr.

DePaul

6-9

Junior

Nick Richards

Kentucky

6-11

Junior

Colbey Ross

Pepperdine

6-1

Junior

Fatts Russell

Rhode Island

5-10

Junior

Joe Saterfield

Ranger CC (TX)

6-4

Freshman

Jayden Scrubb

John A. Logan College (IL)

6-6

Sophomore

Aamir Simms

Clemson

6-9

Junior

Ja’Vonte Smart

LSU

6-4

Sophomore

Chris Smith

UCLA

6-9

Junior

Collin Smith

UCF

6-11

Junior

Jalen Smith

Maryland

6-10

Sophomore

Justin Smith

Indiana

6-7

Junior

Mitchell Smith

Missouri

6-10

Junior

Stef Smith

Vermont

6-1

Junior

Ben Stanley

Hampton

6-6

Sophomore

Cassius Stanley

Duke

6-6

Freshman

Isaiah Stewart

Washington

6-9

Freshman

Parker Stewart

UT-Martin

6-5

Sophomore

Terry Taylor

Austin Peay

6-5

Junior

MaCio Teague

Baylor

6-3

Junior

Tyrell Terry

Stanford

6-1

Freshman

Justin Thomas

Morehead State

5-11

Junior

Ethan Thompson

Oregon State

6-5

Junior

Xavier Tillman Sr.

Michigan State

6-8

Junior

Jeremiah Tilmon

Missouri

6-10

Junior

Obi Toppin

Dayton

6-9

Sophomore

Jordan Tucker

Butler

6-7

Junior

Devin Vassell

Florida State

6-6

Sophomore

Alonzo Verge Jr.

Arizona State

6-3

Junior

Chris Vogt

Cincinnati

7-1

Junior

CJ Walker

Ohio State

6-1

Junior

Trendon Watford

LSU

6-9

Freshman

Ibi Watson

Dayton

6-5

Junior

Nick Weatherspoon

Mississippi State

6-2

Junior

Kaleb Wesson

Ohio State

6-9

Junior

Jarrod West

Marshall

5-11

Junior

Romello White

Arizona State

6-8

Junior

Kahlil Whitney

Kentucky

6-6

Freshman

DeAndre Williams

Evansville

6-9

Sophomore

Emmitt Williams

LSU

6-6

Sophomore

Keith Williams

Cincinnati

6-5

Junior

Patrick Williams

Florida State

6-8

Freshman

James Wiseman

Memphis

7-1

Freshman

Robert Woodard II

Mississippi State

6-7

Sophomore

McKinley Wright IV

Colorado

6-0

Junior

Omer Yurtseven

Georgetown

7-0

Junior

The following is the list of international players who have applied for early entry into the 2020 NBA Draft:

Player

Team/Country of Team

Height

Status

Berke Atar

MZT Skopje (Macedonia)

6-11

1999 DOB

Deni Avdija

Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

6-8

2001 DOB

Brancou Badio

Barcelona (Spain)

6-3

1999 DOB

Darko Bajo

Split (Croatia)

6-10

1999 DOB

Philippe Bayehe

Roseto (Italy)

6-9

1999 DOB

Marek Blazevic

Rytas (Lithuania)

6-10

2001 DOB

Adrian Bogucki

Radom (Poland)

7-1

1999 DOB

Leandro Bolmaro

Barcelona (Spain)

6-6

2000 DOB

Vinicius Da Silva

Prat (Spain)

7-0

2001 DOB

Henri Drell

Pesaro (Italy)

6-9

2000 DOB

Imru Duke

Zentro Basket (Spain)

6-8

1999 DOB

Michele Ebeling

Kleb Ferrara (Italy)

6-9

1999 DOB

Paul Eboua

Pesaro (Italy)

6-8

2000 DOB

Osas Ehigiator

Fuenlabrada (Spain)

6-10

1999 DOB

Joel Ekamba

Limoges (France)

6-5

2001 DOB

Selim Fofana

Neuchatel (Switzerland)

6-3

1999 DOB

Miguel Gonzalez

Baskonia (Spain)

6-7

1999 DOB

Killian Hayes

Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)

6-5

2001 DOB

Sehmus Hazer

Bandirma (Turkey)

6-3

1999 DOB

Rokas Jokubaitis

Zalgiris (Lithuania)

6-4

2000 DOB

Georgios Kalaitzakis

Nevezis (Lithuania)

6-8

1999 DOB

Vit Krejci

Zaragoza (Spain)

6-8

2000 DOB

Arturs Kurucs

VEF Riga (Latvia)

6-3

2000 DOB

Dut Mabor

Roseto (Italy)

7-1

2001 DOB

Yam Madar

Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)

6-2

2000 DOB

Theo Maledon

ASVEL (France)

6-4

2001 DOB

Karim Mane

Vanier (Canada)

6-5

2000 DOB

Sergi Martinez

Barcelona (Spain)

6-8

1999 DOB

Nikola Miskovic

Mega Bemax (Serbia)

6-10

1999 DOB

Aristide Mouaha

Roseto (Italy)

6-3

2000 DOB

Caio Pacheco

Bahia Basket (Argentina)

6-3

1999 DOB

Joel Parra

Joventut (Spain)

6-8

2000 DOB

Aleksej Pokusevski

Olympiacos (Greece)

7-0

2001 DOB

Sander Raieste

Kalev/Cramo (Estonia)

6-9

1999 DOB

Nikolaos Rogkavopoulos

AEK (Greece)

6-8

2001 DOB

Yigitcan Saybir

Anadolu Efes (Turkey)

6-7

1999 DOB

Njegos Sikiras

Fuenlabrada (Spain)

6-9

1999 DOB

Marko Simonovic

Mega Bemax (Serbia)

6-11

1999 DOB

Mouhamed Thiam

Nanterre (France)

6-9

2001 DOB

Uros Trifunovic

Partizan (Serbia)

6-7

2000 DOB

Arnas Velicka

Prienai (Lithuania)

6-4

1999 DOB

Andrii Voinalovych

Khimik (Ukraine)

6-10

1999 DOB

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NBA

NBA Daily: Biggest Winners On Draft Night

With another year in the books, Ben Nadeau looks at the 2019 NBA Draft’s biggest winners — go get that money, Cam!

Ben Nadeau

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As usual, chaos reigned supreme during Thursday’s NBA Draft, an annual tradition like no other. Spearheaded by pre-draft trades involving Anthony Davis, Mike Conley Jr. and a number of smaller-sided deals, a rambunctious amount of league-wide movement went down in Brooklyn this week. After the all-but-announced business involving Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett had been decided, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Pheonix Suns helped to push the draft into an early frenzy — so, from there on out, matters only continued to rise. The New Orleans Pelicans used their freshly-replenished haul of draft picks to add even more depth to a young, athletic roster, while multiple surprises kept much of first 30 choices shrouded in mystery.

But when the dust settled at the Barclays Center, a few teams had notably come out on top. Whether by sticking to their front office guns or just simply reading the room, there can be no doubt that these franchises bettered themselves for both the present and the oncoming future.

New Orleans Pelicans

Now That’s What I Call Rebuilding A Franchise, Vol. 19! David Griffin, the recently-hired Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Pelicans, has absolutely smashed his opening months in charge. Anthony Davis’ trade deadline value had been torpedoed by that infamous public trade request — and doubled-down upon in June by Rich Paul’s insistence that his client would end up in Los Angeles — but that didn’t stop Griffin from squeezing every possible ounce of profit from the desperate Lakers. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram were quality centerpieces, but Josh Hart, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker will factor in for years to come too. Naturally, that list doesn’t even include the trove of future draft picks that they received too

Billy King, unofficially, you are off the hook.

If that weren’t enough, Griffin also ditched the final year of Solomon Hill’s contract, a move that’ll put the Pelicans in prime position to chase a key free agent. For a franchise that looked stuck between a rock and hard place four months ago, it’s far more likely that New Orleans reaches the playoffs instead of the lottery next season. In short, even if the Pelicans weren’t your secret second favorite team, they probably are now.

Cleveland Cavaliers

There were no insane deals for Cleveland this year, nor did they have to worry about placating a nearly decided-upon LeBron James either. Now firmly entrenched in year two of their unanticipated rebuild, a palpable shape is starting to take form for the Cavaliers. Sure, Darius Garland and Collin Sexton play the same position — but that’s something for John Beilein, Cleveland’s shiny, new hire at head coach — to figure out. Joined by the excellent 1-2 scoring punch of Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. to finish out the night, the Cavaliers snagged plenty of ceilingless shooting potential. Although they’re likely to see at least one more lottery appearance, there’s plenty to be excited about in the Midwest — with or without a deep postseason run ahead of them.

Brooklyn Nets

Since Sean Marks was hired as the Nets’ general manager, he’s drafted exceptionally well — particularly for a franchise that didn’t hold their own first round pick for half a decade. Caris LeVert (No. 20), Jarrett Allen (No. 22) and Rodions Kurucs (No. 40) all seem like tent-pole contributors for Brooklyn — so the Nets, who once had two first-rounders in 2019, believe it or not, traded both of them away. With the Kyrie Irving gaining serious steam lately, Marks and the front office needed to keep the roster lean for a second max free agent — unfortunately, that came at the expense of those pesky guaranteed first-round deals. Brooklyn didn’t come away empty-handed, however, as the green room-invited Nic Claxton and late-round draftee Jaylen Hands are intriguing in their own ways — but their biggest prize remains that flexibility.

If the league has learned anything over the last four years, it should be that the Nets don’t willingly toss aside draft picks, especially with their sturdy track record. Whether or not Brooklyn lands some combination of Kevin Durant or Irving in July remains to be seen — but this marked a warning shot to the other 29 franchises: The Nets are back.

Atlanta Hawks

While the Luka Dončić-Trae Young debate is set to rage on until the end of time, it’s safe to say that the Hawks have crucially navigated their rebuild nonetheless. Flipping Nos. 8 and 17 — the former coming via the Allen Crabbe deal — with New Orleans to move up for De’Andre Hunter was shrewd business, but using the No. 10 overall selection, the extra asset from the aforementioned Mavericks trade, to collect Cam Reddish might be the cherry on top. Very suddenly, the Hawks have collected an entirely new starting five in just under three years. Additionally armed with Kevin Heurter, John Collins and Young — three of the league’s brightest breakout stars in 2018-19 — that core, somehow, got even better.

At No. 4, Hunter is a versatile, two-way standout that’ll protect Young on defense and shoulder some offensive millage for Heurter as well. In an alternative collegiate dimension, Reddish could’ve been a bonafide star — instead, he falls perfectly into the lap of Atlanta. Any franchise thinking about hitting the reset button should carefully study the Hawks — it’s early, but the signs are extremely positive.

New York Knicks

The Knicks are included on this list of winners precisely for Not Messing That Up™ — at long last, RJ Barrett is the new king of New York. Throughout the springtime, Barrett was merely considered a consolation prize compared to the real-deal main courses in Zion Williamson and Ja Morant — same, consequently, for whichever team ended up at No. 3 overall. Even if that many-times-rebuffed draft narrative comes true, Barrett was still the easy call for the Knicks to make. As if a sight for sore eyes, New York-area fans actually celebrated their latest first-round selection — a facet that hasn’t happened frequently as of late. But for everybody else, it was just refreshing not to see the always-struggling franchise not outthink itself for once.

The former Blue Devil averaged 22.6 points and 7.6 rebounds on 52.9 percent from the field and, in all likelihood, this will be his team from day one.  Now paired with Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Dennis Smith Jr., the newly-drafted Barrett and the Knicks may finally be on the path to something bigger and brighter.

Cameron Johnson

One of the most-puzzling moves of the night came at the expense of the Phoenix Suns, a team so badly in need of above-average defense that they moved down from No. 6 to No. 11 in exchange for Dario Saric. To slightly compound matters, the Suns then grabbed Cameron Johnson, an excellent shooter that was projected as a mid-to-late pick in the first round. Pundits have since crushed the choice — Jarrett Culver, a solid two-way player, slid to their original selection — but the Suns clearly saw something they loved in Johnson.

All that aside, the former Tar Heel just got much, much richer on behalf of the Suns.

If Johnson had fallen a little closer to his mocked-out range — let’s say to the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 24 overall, just as an example — his initial salary would’ve been a paltry downgrade. Of course, salary cap numbers differ year-to-year but the Trail Blazers’ Anfernee Simons went No. 24 in 2018 and was paid about $1.8 million during his rookie season. Simons will earn $2.1 million in 2019-20, plus $2.2 and $3.9 million over the following two years should Portland continue to pick up his team options ahead of restricted free agency.

So, across his first four NBA seasons, Simons will earn roughly $10.2 million — whereas Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, last year’s No. 11 overall pick, will take home close to $17 million on the same type of structured deal. For a 23-year-old like Johnson that was supposed to land closer to the second round than the lottery a week ago, that’s a significant financial windfall. Even if he doesn’t end up proving all his doubters wrong, he will, at the very least, be paid far more handsomely for his efforts.

From franchises that are looking to stockpile talented youngsters to those readying themselves for the hectic free agency period, most did fairly well during the 2019 NBA Draft. But in this world, there are always winners and losers — and, in this iteration, Cameron Johnson may be the biggest victor of them all.

So congratulations to Johnson on the major pay raise and best wishes to the rest of this promising class as well — October can’t come soon enough.

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NBA

2019 NBA Draft Trade Recap

Drew Maresca revisits a crazy night of trades during the 2019 NBA Draft and offers his analysis on the moves.

Drew Maresca

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The 2019 NBA Draft started off with more trade activity than expected as most experts even predicted a record-breaking night as far as trades were concerned. With many big-name stars on the move pre-draft, rumors galore and the pending free agency period, all 30 teams were looking to maneuver in a way that best suited their current course of action. But when the dust eventually settled, the final count ended at an above-average total of 12 draft night trades. Here is a comprehensive list of all of the deals agreed to on draft night.

Atlanta: Acquired the fourth overall pick from New Orleans and selected De’Andre Hunter, along with the 57th overall pick (Jordan Bone) a future second-round pick and Solomon Hill

New Orleans: Traded down for the eighth (Jaxon Hayes), 17th (Nickeil Alexander-Walker) and 35th overall picks (Marcos Louzada Silva), as well as a protected 2020 first-round pick (via Cleveland).

This move clearly benefits the Hawks by sending them a top-tier talent. Hunter gives Atlanta a talented two-way player who is a capable shooter and defender. He will join Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish on a strong, young team, thus speeding up the timeline on the rebuild significantly.

Hunter, the centerpiece of the trade, is an elite 3-and-D guy. He should have an immediate impact on the Hawks given his length and noteworthy defensive versatility.

Elsewhere, the Pelicans were able to net two prospects that they like while clearing Hill’s salary, freeing up significant salary cap space immediately. They felt that they didn’t have to make the fourth selection considering they drafted Zion Williamson with the first overall pick minutes earlier.

Additionally, the Pelicans may also consider packaging a number of their 2019 draft picks for an established star or, perhaps, even sign one outright thanks to their new, lighter salary cap situation.

Minnesota: Acquired the sixth overall pick (Jarrett Culver)

Phoenix: Traded down for Dario Saric and the 11th overall pick (Cameron Johnson)

The Timberwolves clearly had eyes for Culver — and why wouldn’t they? Culver is a solid player that can score in bunches. He prides himself on his defensive abilities and projects well as a complete player who can help a team without requiring too many touches.

The Suns were obviously enamored with Saric, that much is clear. Ultimately, their selection of Johnson is a bit puzzling considering his injury history (hips), age (23) and where he was rated as a prospect (widely-viewed as a late first-rounder at the earliest); but the Suns clearly saw something. Maybe the Suns thought they had enough backcourt assets with Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges — typically, however, when a young team has an opportunity to draft a player like Culver, they capitalize on it.

Philadelphia: Acquired the 20th overall pick (Matisse Thybulle).

Boston: Traded back for the 24th (Ty Jerome) and 33rd (Carsen Edwards) overall picks

*Jerome was later traded to Phoenix along with Aaron Baynes for a 2020 first-round pick (via Milwaukee).

The Celtics were clearly not overly-sold on any prospects available in the 20-24 range. During the draft, allegedly, Boston was hoping to consolidate picks and move up. And when that didn’t come to fruition, they had to decide if they really wanted to bring on so many rookies.

Philadelphia potentially acquired the best perimeter defender in the draft in Thybulle. There were rumors they were interested in Nassir Little and Kevin Porter Jr., but they pounced when they realized Thybulle was available — in turn, the 76ers received an immediate impact player.

Phoenix’s acquisition of Jerome makes sense. Jerome is a 6-foot-5 point guard that shot over 40 percent from three-point range in his three-year career at Virginia — and the Suns, of course, are in need of a point guard. He distributes the ball well for a combo guard, but can he develop in as a true point guard? The Suns will hope so.

Further, giving up the 2020 Milwaukee pick after trading away the sixth overall pick was curious. Presumably, the Suns figured that Giannis Antetokounmpo stays in Milwaukee, the Bucks remain dominant in the Eastern Conference and that 2020 first-round pick turns out to be lower than 24.

Memphis: Acquired the 21st overall pick (via Utah) and selected Brandon Clarke

Oklahoma City: Traded down to the 23rd overall pick and selected Darius Bazley

The Grizzlies added Clarke to their young core, which also includes rookie phenom Ja Morant and the promising Jaren Jackson Jr. They should grow together nicely and Clarke’s extreme athleticism should fit perfectly with Morant. Clarke is also an elite defender, which means that the Grizzlies now have two potential defensive stoppers in him and Jackson Jr. Clarke is a relatively-high IQ guy that is poised and deliberate — on the court and in his interactions with the media — which usually bodes well for both the player and the team.

For the Thunder, this deal was all about savings. Oklahoma City is well over the salary cap and trying to mitigate spending as much as possible. While trading away Clarke hurts, it’s a means to an end.

Los Angeles Clippers: Acquired the 27th overall pick and selected Mfiondu Kabengele

Brooklyn: Received a future first-round pick (via Philadelphia) and the 56th overall pick (Jaylen Hands)

The Nets did not want to add any guaranteed salary given their pursuit of two max salary cap slots, hence the trade of another first-round pick.

And while the Clippers are also seeking two max slots, they are far enough below the cap that the 27th pick doesn’t hurt their pursuit of cap space.

Hands is an explosive point guard and an above-average defender. He uses his above-average quickness effectively and possesses an NBA-level shooting range. On the other end, Kabengele just adds to the Clippers’ young core, a shrewd pick-up that just won his conference’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 2018-19 — think Los Angeles could use another player like that?

You betcha.

Cleveland: Acquired the 30th overall pick (Kevin Porter Jr.)

Detroit: Received four future second-round picks and cash considerations

Not including Bol Bol, Porter Jr. probably had the biggest drop of all the top prospects. But he was ultimately selected with the last pick in the first round due to the Cavaliers trading up. He’s viewed as a steal at No. 30 at this point in time, rightfully so given his raw potential. Still, there are maturity concerns regarding Porter Jr. that must be addressed. He will likely be given room to grown and learn on the fly in Cleveland, but he must make good decisions both on and off the court. 29 teams passed on Porter Jr., so it’s up to him to prove them wrong.

And if Detroit is among the teams that had doubts about Porter Jr., they received a fair amount of compensation for the right to pick him — future second-rounders and $5 million in case. Could Porter Jr. have helped Detroit? Possibly. But given the doubts around him, the Pistons made a prudent decision.

Washington: Acquired Jonathan Simmons and the 42nd overall pick (Admiral Schofield).

Philadelphia: Received cash considerations

The 76ers clearly wanted to move Simmons. They traded away the rights to Admiral Schofield to get out of Simmons’ contract, which helps free up additional salary cap space — the 76ers are rumored to be interested in offering Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler max deals come free agency — and they need all the space the can get.

The Wizards, on the other hand, are stuck between rebuilding and competing — although competing seems challenging given the John Wall injury history and contract. So if trading for a player whose deal expires following the 2019-20 season is the cost to bring on Schofield, that’s a penalty the Wizards were willing to incur.

Schofield is a good shooter and scores well in the post. He projects to be similar to Jae Crowder, assuming all works out well for him. As a competitive gamer, Schofield will help the Wizards immediately on the offensive end. He’s likely to give up some height on defense, given that he’s a small forward — however, his grit and athleticism should help him keep pace.

Miami: Acquired the 32nd overall pick (KZ Okpala)

Suns: Received three future second-round picks

KZ Okpala projects to be similar to Rodney Hood, which is clearly not a bad thing given how Hood played in the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Okpala is super athletic and has good measurements of 6-foot-8 and 195 lbs. He can run the floor, handle the ball and is an above-average shot-maker. He needs to improve a bit defensively, but Miami will work with him on this.

The Suns could have used Okapala, as could most teams. But at the same time, three second-round picks can be a pretty big haul too. And the Suns, like many other teams selling second-rounders, already have their share of youth, which presents unique challenges.

Denver: Acquired the 44th overall pick (Bol Bol)

Miami: Received a future second-round pick and cash considerations

Bol Bol was projected as high as the lottery — but his night did not pan out how he would’ve liked. Nevertheless, any time a team identifies a prospect as someone of interest, that prospect should be thankful.

Bol was always going to be a risky selection given his foot injury, his extremely slim build and his surprisingly-high body fat percentage. Still, Bol Bol offers skills not previously seen in a player his size. He shoots incredibly well from three-point range and can grow into an above-average shot blocker. And given the Nuggets’ depth, they can bring him along slowly. Their player development team has their hands full with a guy whose drive and desire have been questioned — but the upside is not in doubt.

Los Angeles Lakers: Acquired the 46th overall pick (Talen Horton-Tucker)

Orlando: Received cash considerations

This move was a must-have for the Lakers, who are in need of cheap talent. If Los Angeles is serious about chasing a third max free agent, Horton-Tucker is solid fit — both rotationally and financially.

Horton-Tucker is a strong guard who boasts a ridiculous 7-foot-1 wingspan (considering he’s only 6-foot-4). He can defend both guard positions, allowing him to have an immediate impact if need be. Further, he doesn’t turn 19 years-old until November, which means he has more time than most to mature and develop.

The Magic were clearly more interested in the cash than they were in on-boarding another rookie.

Golden State: Received the 39th overall pick (Alen Smailagic)

New Orleans: Received two future second-round picks and cash considerations 

Smailagic is an 18 -year-old shooter from Serbia that the Warriors monitored/hid in the G League last season as he was too young and ineligible for the NBA Draft. He was kept away from most showcases last year and the Warriors cashed in on draft night. He averaged 9.1 points last season for the Santa Cruz Warriors.

The Pelicans, on the other hand, are already committed to developing four rookies. In the end, they did not need a fifth, especially considering the number of other young players who still need guidance, too — e.g., Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball.

Detroit: Acquired the 57th overall pick (Jordan Bone) 

New Orleans: Received cash considerations

Jordan Bone took a chance after relatively-disappointing freshmen and sophomore seasons with Tennessee. It paid off when Detroit traded for the 57th overall pick, using it to select Bone. The speedy guard averaged 16.3 points and 7.1 assists per game last season for the Volunteers. Bone led the third-most efficient offense in the country last year, which bodes well for a player who will likely struggle to find a spot immediately.

As far as the Pelicans are concerned, it makes sense that they would trade away the 57th overall pick considering they traded away the 39th too.

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